Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke Is Just Getting Started

In an Advocate cover interview, Okereke sets the record straight, so to speak.



Madonna is such a mega-fan of British rock band Bloc Party, lead singer and rhythm guitarist Kele Okereke told a Chicago Tribune reporter, that the most amazing thing about performing at Live Earth 2007 at Wembley Stadium was that the iconic singer, who was also appearing that day, came in their dressing room to see the band.

“Our tour manager is this guy from Scotland that doesn’t know much about popular culture and popular music,” he told reporter Matt Pais. “So when she came in, he alerted security and security dragged her out. They had her head in a headlock, and they were putting her out of the dressing room. It was really surreal, and everyone stopped speaking. And the only thing we could hear is Madonna cursing and saying she’s gonna kill these guys.”

The guys who hauled out the Queen of Pop in a headlock? That’s the kind of story a band can dine out on for ages. Except not a word of it was true. That fib, Okereke says, was later picked up by the National Enquirer. “That was probably one of my proudest moments,” he says now. “Just as long as it’s not libelous. Madonna flipping out? It’s believable, right?”

Other lies and misdeeds? In late 2011 he told U.K. music publication NME he was worried he was being replaced as Bloc Party’s lead singer: “I was actually having lunch about three weeks ago…and I saw somebody walk past and I recognized the haircut. It was [guitarist Russell Lissack]. I was like, ‘Hey!’ but he didn’t see me and I followed him around the corner and then I saw [drummer Matt Tong], [bassist Gordon Moakes], and Russell all standing outside this rehearsal space. They all went inside.… I hope I haven’t been fired. I don’t really know what’s going on, because we haven’t really spoken recently and I’m a bit too scared to ask.”

So this spring, when Bloc Party announced new tour dates and began recording tracks for a yet-to-be named new album, one that included lead singer Kele Okereke, some confused music watchers and reporters were scratching their heads.

The story of being replaced also was utterly untrue. “It was completely bullshit,” he says over breakfast at La Bottega in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. “I was quite proud of it.” So what’s the deal with the tall tales? “That was me losing interest in an interview. You can tell when a journalist is trying to lead you down a path, when they have written the story in their head and the interview is just about filling it in. It’s hard to go along with that. That’s why recently I’ve been making lots of stuff up in interviews. It’s got me into lots of trouble, but that’s only when I’m not engaged. Don’t worry. I’m fully engaged now.”